Brandeis Improv Society teaches improv to all

September 6, 2019

Comedy is enjoyable for all but hard as a craft to master on its own. On campus, while we are known for our numerous a cappella groups, we shouldn’t fail to notice the large quantities of comedy groups that exist, advertising their craft to all that want to relax for a night and get a good laugh. Comedy groups have come together for the first time, forgetting about their differences, to help the average person improve their comedy skills though the Brandeis Improv Collective (BIS).

According to Lena Burdick ’21, president of To Be Announced Improv and Sketch Comedy (TBA), BIS has been around Brandeis for a number of years under the group Work in Progress. She explained that leadership and attendance in Work In Progress dwindled and the club no longer existed. “Last year, as treasurer, I worked to increase TBA’s funding so that we could open up comedy opportunities to more students on campus,” Burdick said in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. “We rebranded as Brandeis Improv Society to shift the focus from ‘improv-ing’ to the level of an official troupe to collaboration between both members of troupes, people interested in comedy who are not involved in a troupe and anyone who just wants to explore something new.” BIS is officially a part of TBA, but people from many other comedy troupes on campus help plan events and coordinate for the BIS. 

Perry Letourneau ’20, one of the writing coordinators for Boris’ Kitchen (BK), added that “it’s really great to have a no-cut environment to practice improv like this, and it’s something I’ve wanted since coming to Brandeis. As someone who is pretty heavily involved in a troupe already, I think it’s awesome to have a low-pressure space to come and do improv and get to know new people.”

Burdick has been a part of TBA since her first year at Brandeis and auditioned initially on a whim. “I grew up going to Second City shows and watching Monty Python and SNL, but I never had the opportunity to pursue it in school. As my involvement with TBA grew, I became more interested with comedy theory and pursuing it more seriously as an interest and a means of communication,” she said. 

Letourneau has also been a part of his troupe since his first semester at Brandeis. “I’ve been obsessed with sketch comedy and improv since I started watching classic SNL and Kids in the Hall sketches in middle school—it’s something I’ve always known I wanted to do, so I jumped at the opportunity the second I got to Brandeis,” he added. 

All people are welcome to attend BIS meetings, which are Monday nights 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Schwartz 103. “Most meetings involve a mix of light hearted improv games supported by some theory knowledge, but we’ve left the specifics vague so that we can adapt to whatever group shows up that week,” explained Burdick in an interview. “Our goal is to also bring in people to lead sketch writing, stand up and musical improv throughout the semester.”

Letourneau explained that anyone interested in comedy in any capacity should come to meetings. “Whether you’re looking to start independent projects, or meet new, funny people, or just to hang out casually for a few minutes, [we] encourage you to come by, we have some really exciting stuff planned!”

BIS is also bringing a professional troupe from Improv Boston on Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. to perform on campus. According to Burdick, they will be leading an “Introduction to Improv” workshop in the alumni lounge with a professional performance at 8 p.m. in Chum’s.

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